The Saudi Hawks (Arabic: الصقور السعودية/Aṣ-Ṣuqūr as-Suʿūdīyah) are the official aerobatic team of the Royal Saudi Air Force. They are sometimes incorrectly referred to as the Saudi Falcons, due to an ambiguity with the literal translation of their Arabic name. They debuted in 1999 to mark the country’s centenary and have since become regular participants at airshows in the Middle East and Europe.
The team is trained and supervised by former members of the RAF Red Arrows, who fly the same aircraft type.
It was widely ancicipated that the Saudi Hawks would eventually switch from the Hawk Mk.65 (analagous to the Red Arrows’ Hawk T.1s) to the far newer Hawk Mk.165 (an export version of the Hawk T.2). This was confirmed at the World Defense Show 2024 in Riyadh, where the first Saudi Hawks Mk.165 jet was unveiled. It wears a modernised paint scheme with motifs of both a Hawk and of the Saudi national flag. The Saudi Hawks will use locally-assembled Mk.165s and should complete the transition to their new aircraft type in around 2026.
The Saudi Hawks’ display changes from year to year, but is generally is composed of two halves; initially, aircraft perform seven-ship formation aerobatics, followed by more dynamic manoeuvres as a pair and five-ship in the second half of the display. Several manoeuvres strongly resemble those flown by the Red Arrows. Green, red and white smoke – the three colours of Islam – are used throughout the display.
The team’s trademark manoeuvre sees the aircraft use their smoke system to draw the national symbol of Saudi Arabia; a palm tree crossed with two swords. Visually, this manoeuvre looks like a halfway house between the Red Arrows’ Detonator and their Palm Tree Split.
Other callbacks to Saudi culture include a formation inspired by a falcon (reflecting the country’s long-held tradition of fanconry) and another depicting a Bedouin tent.
They also specialise in on-crowd opposition breaks, opposition passes of various kinds, and Corkscrew-style manoeuvres.
Occasionally, when displaying abroad, smoke colours are adapted to reflect the flag of their host country, although Saudi national colours of green and white are always retained. For example, when performing in Greece, the team sometimes swapped their red smoke for blue smoke.